Whether you're concerned about conflict diamonds, cost is an issue or you simply don't want a typical engagement ring, there are lots of unique choices that reflect the style of brides-to-be and their mates. Picking up just any diamond at a jewelry store may be problematic if you're concerned about the environment and supporting civil wars and political strife in countries such as the Sudan. Profits from the harvest of these natural resources may fund a warlord's efforts or a corrupt government. However, the good news is that many retailers offer an array of conflict-free diamonds. All you have to do is ask. If you're serious about making as little of an environmental impact as possible, then why not consider a ring constructed of alternative metals or even wood?
Stainless steel is making a major comeback, and it's much less fragile and cheaper than platinum and gold. Wood rings are surprisingly durable and make an earthy statement. If you're just not a diamond girl, then it's perfectly OK to choose another precious stone. Trendsetter Kate Middleton went with an heirloom with her sapphire engagement ring. And if your philosophy is reduce, reuse, recycle, then why not follow suit by repurposing a vintage family ring? It doesn't necessarily have to be an engagement ring; if your grandmother or another relative has a beautiful ring, then you can have a jeweler customize it to your taste. Likewise, don't overlook pawn shops and eBay - you can net a great deal on nearly-new rings or choose loose stones for your own creation. Who says your engagement has to follow the rules?